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Identifying the musician with the music - how does it work?


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I am always curious (as a semi retired muso myself) , how people identify musicians as having a style or belonging in a genre(s).

Do you wait for the music media, or marketing blurb to tell you where the music/musician belongs?

Do you make decisions on the style of music based on a first impression or after some extensive listening?

What makes the "style" of a musician obvious? Are there elements of style you view as being objective or black  and white?

Which musicians seem to defy categories and why?

 

Or perhaps you dont care! 😆

 

This question came about when I received some formal feedback on my own playing and identity as a player that really shocked me.  Firstly because it surprised me that such categorisation seemed necessary at all and secondly that it seemed to be based on an aesthetic that I personally only partially identify with.

It may surprise some of you to learn that musicians in my experience can be amongst the quickest to categorise musicians into pigeon holes and can be the least discriminating and perceptive listeners in that regard - due possibly to the egocentric limits of their own eclecticism.

 

I know there are some seriously discriminating listeners here.....

 

 

 

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I find Marillion defy categorisation since Steve Hogarth joined the band, their music is so different on every album.

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  • 2 weeks later...

How do you categories someone like John McLaughlin, Chick Corea or Keith Jarrett. Which would be the correct pigeon hole for Ry Cooder or Damon Albarn? Most musicians will create their own style, whether conforming to a genre or bending it, or even fusing multiple genres, but nonetheless create a style that is identifiable to them. Those mentioned above, and many others, will will keep you in suspense as to what their next output will deliver.

 

Genres may be helpful in searching for music you are typically likely to find agreeable, but it can't be the be all and end all. For example, I like jazz, but obviously there is some jazz I find unappealing. Inversely, I find country music utterly boring, yet there are a number of country artists whose output I enjoy greatly. Genres are genres and styles are styles, in the end no two people will ever agree on where all musicians belong. Best bet is not to get hung up on branding.

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Man, this is one of the things that really annoys me about sorting my digital music collection... Genres. Although not the same thing as a musician's or band's "style". Many, if not most, performers play multiple music genres, but mostly within their own style. Take one classic blues songs, and ten artists that have performed it, and they'll all sound different. I think of style as more akin to different peoples handwriting. All ten sentences say the same thing, but they all look different on paper. But that's not to say that they can't play in different styles, much the same as you can change your handwriting, if you want to. Like when you used to forge mums handwriting and signature on a sick note for school.

 

But you get your nice flashy software, that neatly tags music files with infinite detail, and they include this field "Genre". I can sit there and listen to an album three times and come up with three different Genres; Blues, Southern Blues, Delta Blues, Blues Rock. or just Rock.. etc.. etc.. And then the album will have songs that are across all of those, and also include one Rock and Roll song. Do you think that I might have a 'slight' OCD problem?

 

Sometimes I contemplate selecting all albums (well over 4,000), clicking on edit, and deleting the "Genre" tag completely.. Nah, too big a leap for me.. LOL

 

 

Edited by bob_m_54
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Haha, I just remembered my younger brother's version of Genre, back in the days when we used to cruise around in our EH Holdens, playing cassettes at very loud and extremely low-fi levels. Pick up one of his tapes and written on the label "$h1t hot rock"... but he did have good taste in music LOL

Edited by bob_m_54
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On 11/11/2020 at 1:19 AM, t_mike said:

Most musicians will create their own style, whether conforming to a genre or bending it, or even fusing multiple genres, but nonetheless create a style that is identifiable to them. Those mentioned above, and many others, will will keep you in suspense as to what their next output will deliver.

Exactly. The "being indentifiable to them"  is the key bit.  What kind of things make it identifiable? Is it all about "the sound"?

 

And identifiable to who?

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On 02/11/2020 at 9:26 AM, gator2310 said:

how people identify musicians as having a style or belonging in a genre(s).

 

I don't believe you should.  Many musicians have released music way outside the genres that made them famous.  Two female examples,  Linda Ronstadt , who did some fabulous Jazz albums.   Also, Judith Durham from the Seekers, also does Gospel, and Jazz

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